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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BOO - scary treats!

I LOVE HALLOWEEN!
I love it even more that I have a little one to celebrate with. My son is totally into crafts these days (and even more into eating whatever the craft is made out of ...) so we had fun making up some cute treats to give to his friends at school and cousins for Halloween this year.


My son is 2 1/2 and his friends are 1, 2, and 4, so not all able to eat lollipops and I didn't want to get just one more thing of candy for them since they'll have enough of that when trick-or-treating anyway. So we went through the snack aisle at the grocery store. We settled on some peanut butter and jelly snack crackers - something simple and that most kids will enjoy and parents will be pleased with also. 


These are a spin off the old ghosts treats made out of lollipops, tissues and string. I didn't have string and didn't want to use lollipops this time around. So we put the crackers in the center of the tissues. 


I taped the back flaps together and then one to the actual snack package.


Add the cute little marker face ... and voila, BOO-licious treats that are cute and easy for your child to give out to his friends!


It's easy to be crafty!
SPOOKTACULAR treats are hopefully going to be loved by all!

What cute and yummy Halloween treats are YOU whipping up this year?




Sunday, October 28, 2012

photography 101 for moms - part 1


Photos. 
We moms all take them - on our iPhones, mini point and shoot cameras, or even our big fancy ones we got with wedding money back in the day. We know it's important to capture the memories our children are making. Some are better at this photo gig than others are. Some just do it for fun. Some want to document every little step of the way as their kids grow from itty bitty wee ones to big sassy ones. Some want to save money by taking pictures themselves or want a different type of photo, instead of going to Sears. Whatever your reason is for aiming the camera at your kids, here are some tips that may help you out.

In part two, coming soon,
I interviewed a great friend and professional photographer on her tips for successful photographing of children. Stay tuned for that.


In addition to being mommy blogger here, I have been taking photos for years. I've been OBSESSED with photos for years is more like it really. I photograph families on the side over the last few years as I've tried the whole "practice makes perfect" thing to improving my skills. Here is what I've learned both professionally and as a mom of 2 taking my photos of children:

Tips for Taking Pictures of Your Wee Ones:

* Let them be. I have seen many, many parents fuss over their children - how they are acting, where their hair parts, the type of smile they are showing in front of the camera, how busy or energetic they are acting, etc. etc. It's natural for us moms to want to make sure things go OK or to help out the photographer by assisting. A little of this is helpful to the photographer, but don't go overboard to the point that your kids end up acting worse. Just let them be. The more natural the kids act, the better the photos will come out anyway.

*Accessorize - Use hats, blankets, special teddy bears, etc. in the pictures. For maternity shoots grab some adorable newborn size shoes or a special book. For newborn shoots, get out a cute outfit you hope she'll wear soon or the first item you bought for her room. Photography is about telling a story, as much as it is about showing images, so help tell your story with artifacts that matter to you.

*Capture it ALL. Photograph the baby room, crib, socks and shoes, a favorite outfit hung in a dresser drawer, etc. Snap away at the sun coming in through the window and the cute curtains you chose for the nursery. Get those sand pails and shovels out in the sand box, or the flip flops thrown off by the water hose in the summer. Get all of it. You'll want to remember these tiny parts of the bigger moments someday.

*Lighting -Shut the lights off, see how that changes your photo. Use well-lit open rooms. Set up near windows for natural light. When outside make sure the sun is not shining directly on the lens or making your subject squint because it's in their eyes.

*Backdrops - Use blankets as backdrops, put the baby in a basket (even a laundry basket works) with lots of pillows and blankets to have a space to work. Newborns can fit anywhere, just make it comfy!

*Nakey - Do some naked, some with just diaper, some with cute outfits - for newborns. I have the most adorable picture of my son on his first birthday sitting in a rocking chair in just a diaper. I LOVE this photo. It shows how little yet big he was in that moment. So strip 'em down to diapers from time to time, they are too cute not to take these pictures!


*Patience is a virtue - Expect to take some time, babies need to pee and eat too! With newborns, you can expect 1-3 hours for a photo shoot typically. You need to take time out to feed them, rock them back to sleep for those adorable sleepy photos, change them, etc. Be patient with the process. It'll be worth it in the end! And if you have a professional photographer, they should be patient with you as well. They expect that you will need to feed and change a newborn, so don't hesitate to do as you normally would when they are shooting.

*Location, location, location. Go some place cool, unique, new, fun. The beach is always a great place for photos. Playgrounds are easygoing and fun, and you honestly can get some great shots there of your kids being their natural funny selves. Go to a big open green grass field. And yet, your backyard has GREAT spots, too, so have fun looking for new spots in your own yard or home to photograph your kids if you can't get some place else.

*Timing - Time your picture-taking right. If you want some formal, nicely done photos of your kids, make sure they are well-fed and well-rested. If they are sick, reschedule. It won't be fun for any of you if you force it when they are under the weather. Also with timing, do the formal posed shots right away at a photo shoot, then let them run around and possibly get dirty but be themselves for some candid shots. While everyone is neat and tidy right out of the car though, take those formal ones first.

*Details - Focus on details - a foot, fingers, ear, hair, etc. Get it all! You will want to remember all of this someday, so take pictures of all the little itty bitty parts - as they grow this becomes even more adorable. Even 3-year-olds have adorable feet and hands, so capture them by zooming in on just those parts.



*Do a little searching - Check out Pinterest or type into Google for images of newborn photo shoots for ideas. They have great family shots and sibling ideas, too. Give credit where it's due to the photographer, but recreating what you see can be great!

*Get all fancy - Learn the Rule of Thirds - meaning you don't always have your subject in the center. Move it to the right, left, top or bottom, in thirds. Google it if you need more help.

*Keep snapping! You cannot take too many pictures of your children. They grow too fast, you have said this, right? You know this to be true. So take a zillion pictures everywhere you go. You can always delete what you don't like. Kids also MOVE fast, so to keep up with them you have to be fast also, always snapping away.

*Get on their level - Don't always stand up and point the camera down at the children. Pictures come out far better of kids when you are on THEIR level. Kneel down, lay down, sit down, whatever you need to do to be closer to their eye level. Lay down and take the picture looking up at them for a cool effect.




*Don't always say "cheeeese." Let them be, again I'll say this. Don't always beg them to smile or look at you. Take some when they have no clue you are taking the picture. Take them when they are mad, annoyed or frustrated or confused. You adore those faces, too, right? So take a few pictures of them just to remember.

*Don't always stage it. It's great for you to try to have a mini photo shoot in your backyard with the nice fall leaves, however don't always do that. Take the camera out for mundane moments, too. When your son is sitting on the potty reading a book, or when your daughter is asleep in her crib or car seat. Take those photos also.

*Keep the camera handy. We leave our mini camera on the counter in the kitchen. It's accessible from anywhere I am in the house. I remember to take it out with me when we leave some place because it's right there where I keep my cell phone and car keys. We have one big nice camera that we take out to special things and outside when I have time to focus and can hold it without anyone dropping it, and then we use this smaller one for everyday playground or beach events, etc. Have yours ready. Many of you have great cameras on your phones - so use those, too! Just remember to upload them to your computers for printing though, otherwise they are wasted on there.

*HAVE FUN! Truth is, you are the mommy, not the professional photographer. So HAVE FUN with your kids, while capturing a few of those great memories.

*Last but not least .... GET MOMMY IN THE PICTURE!
Don't always be the one behind the camera taking pictures of dad with kids or just of kids together. Take some of yourself. You will cherish those later, even if they're pretty close up because you're still holding the camera while juggling a child on your lap! SMILE! :)






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

be nice to your sister!


Dear Owen, the Big Brother,
You've done well so far in the last 6 months tolerating this teeny tiny yet monumental change in our lives called your sister, Addisyn. You have been so sweet to her since she was born. Curious about all the new things she learns to do. Always wanting to include her. You even cried the time I wanted to take you for a special Mom and Owen day and we left her with a babysitter. 


You kiss her a whole lot. 
You want to snuggle her and share your tools like this screw below.


You laugh with her so much it makes me laugh. Especially in the car to and from school every day. You make her giggle SO much. It is the sweetest thing I've ever heard.


And sometimes, sad but true, she gives you a look like, "What is he doing now?! Who is this kid anyway?!" It's pretty funny, really. You know she's just looking up to you.


You are two peas in a pod. 
Peas and carrots.
Chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.
Peanut butter and jelly.
You just fit together. You match. 
You are the same but different, 
just like the photo album I created documenting like pictures of the two of you. 

You are big brother and little sister. 
It's pretty perfect.



So here's the thing, Big Brother, 
I want you to enjoy this bond with your sister. Even though your're too young to understand it now. I want it to be important to you someday. Therefore I'm hoping it starts young, this learning to appreciate your sibling. Yes, I know you will get into fights and argue over toys and other things as the years roll by. But I hope at the end of that fight, every fight, you are best buddies. 


Here are a few rules to live by for you, big brother:

be kind

let your sister follow you and don't take it as annoying; it means s/he looks up to you

don't ever say she can't sit with you on the bus on her first day of kindergarten or to find her own friends (take this from me and your Aunt Min ... it's so not nice!)

remember that siblings will be there for you when others won't be someday, so be nice

share. just do it.

be a cool guy role model for her to look up to

look out for her. make sure nobody hurts her.

give her hugs and kisses every day like you do with me.

teach her cool things like how to use your tools, make a truck noise, dig a big hole in the sandbox, use the potty someday, roll around in the leaves, and build a snowman.

take her hand when she needs it - like the first time down the slide or jumping over waves in the ocean. show her how it's done.

laugh. A LOT. you will someday realize how cool it is to have a sibling, so enjoy it every step of the way.

Love,
Mom


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

so many firsts

The first year with a baby can be crazy, chaotic, challenging, and more crazy. 
It's confusing.
It's difficult.
It's exhausting for sure.

Yet at the same time and even more so, it's INCREDIBLE. 
It's rewarding. Sweet.
Sincerely amazing.
Sentimental and raw and true.

There is something about watching a little one grow up and learn to do things she could not do even a day before that makes you smile, tear up and jump for joy all in one swift move.


My daughter is fast approaching 6 months old next week. 
Half a year. 
Where did the time go?! 
I literally feel like it was just last month that I brought her home from the hospital, all bundled up and acting like the Diva that she is deep down, screeching any time we put her down, wanting the attention stolen from her big brother every step of the way. 


And yet now she's learned so much in the last month alone - roll over, eat cereal and sweet potatoes for the first time, take off her socks, stopped using a pacifier, sleeping in her own crib in her own room, sitting up, grabbing at everything around her, ETC. I can't even keep up with all the changes! 



Watching somebody leave your body's safe keeping and then explore the world, gradually and a little sleepily at first, is the coolest part about being a mother, in my opinion. It makes me feel proud and accomplished every single day. Even if I didn't get a shower in the beginning or didn't get a great night's sleep due to teething, or if I didn't reply to all of those emails or wash the floors or clean the kitchen - I know I've already done something important today - taught my child something new, helped her grow. It's pretty awesome if you think about it, this role we moms play in our kids' lives. We get to witness this transformation from itty bitty newborn in our bellies and then sleeping in our arms, to this moving, screeching, talking, rolling being. How cool are we?! How cool are THEY?!


These pictures are of my daughter rolling around in the leaves on the most gorgeous fall day last week. I was called by the babysitter to go pick up a sick kiddo, which meant I was home half a day early. On the ride home I planned on doing this and that, getting a head start on laundry, etc. Yet when I got home it was just SO beautiful out and my daughter was so smiley that I decided we should play outside instead. I wanted to do her almost-6-months-old photo shoot and dress her up cute ... but her brother was sleeping upstairs and I didn't want to risk waking him up early by looking around for an outfit for her ... so in her cute pink striped pants and shirt we went for the photos! 



It's the little things we will want to remember about these stages when they are gone and past us. 
How my daughter's teeny tiny fingers first grasped on to some fallen leaves, under the bright sun, against the cool grass ... that's something I'll want to remember. I'm so glad it's captured here.


Enjoy the time you have. It's fleeting. You know this. It goes by way too quickly, and then it's gone. Those small, sometimes hidden moments are swiftly behind us and we look around and wonder, "Where did my baby go?" Our babies are still in there, under all that growth and development. They are. They are just bigger and better versions of their newborn selves. Enjoy the growth. Enjoy every little, fast growing second. 

Take time out to remember what this was like, those first moments as they happened in front of you. 
Enjoy it. 
Every one of those firsts. So many of them. 
What a great big role we moms play. 

How special are we that we get to witness and encourage our babies becoming who they are, every step of the way? That's magical. Be grateful for it.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pinterest : a mom's best friend

PINTEREST 
OK if you have stepped outside your rock of a mommy world then I'm SURE you've heard of Pinterest by now (Pin-terest or Pin-ter-est, depending on who says it out loud and changes up the sound of the word).

Essentially it's a big smorgasbord of AMAZING ideas all put in one place for you to adapt into your own ideas and expand your creativity. This REALLY is a mom's best friend, especially after mom brain takes over our creativity that we once had pre-kids.

You can literally search for anything on this site. Type in anything random into the search bar and a zillion ideas come up that you can re-pin and keep as your own. (Pin- think of as a thumb tack on a cork board where you tack up all the things you like and want to keep for later. Same on Pinterest, just done virtually, online.)

Here are a few "pins" I've done myself (saw the cool ideas on Pinterest, then pinned up!). This was for my nephew's second birthday party:



I threw my son the cutest (if I do say so myself, THANKS PINTEREST!) 2nd birthday party with the John Deere tractor theme this year. ALL thanks to Pinterest ideas. It came out awesome. I felt like a super start mommy for carrying out these "pins." 


Here's how you sign up:
1. Go to Pinterest.com
2. Top center, bright red button, "Join Pinterest," click on that.
3. Sign in with either your Facebook login or Twitter login, or your email address - whichever will work the same.
4. Follow instructions.
5. All the pictures that are there on the main page are "pins," things other people have liked and posted for you to pin yourself and keep in a board. You can make boards (think cork board like I mentioned above) of any topic you want.
6. Top right under your name, drop down menu, there are several options. You can invite friends (from Facebook or email addresses, etc.) to join you. You can "follow" them, by clicking on their follow buttons on their boards, so you can keep up with the cool ideas they find and add them on your own pages.
7. You can also add your own pins, things you find on the Internet, or even upload pictures of cool craft things you have done yourself so others can search them. I've done this with a birthday party I planned for my son.
8. Top center, under the red Pinterest note, click on drop down menus for specific things you are looking for, located under general themes.

It's easy once you start playing around and looking into it. At first I didn't get it, but the more you play around, the easier it becomes, and actually you get addicted! Hooked at first pin, I swear!

Get creative, Mama!
Pinterest lets me be CREATIVE. Seriously, easily. Here are three things I made for my best friend's wedding shower gift, after ideas I found on Pinterest:
This is envelopes of date nights! I made one envelope for each month of the year after their wedding, including money or hot chocolate packets, etc. for the month.


This is a frame of the dates that changed them ...


This is my favorite, of the places where they met, were engaged and will be married. Love this! A hit at the shower for sure!


WHY Pinterest is a mom's best friend:
*It can help you plan the most creative and adorable birthday parties ever for your kids.
*You can become creative and crafty and organized and a great cook (amazing recipes on this site!), ALL from pinning!
*You can find GREAT, easy gift ideas that are really special.
*It helps you keep things in one place so you can go back later (photo shoot ideas, Halloween costume ideas, Father's Day card ideas with hand prints, etc.).

AMAZING. I swear you will be hooked once you check it out. 

Now that you know how to use the site ... let me get you started on my 
BRAND NEW the Mommy Stories Pinterest site : http://pinterest.com/themommystories/

Join in on the fun! 
With this Pinterest site, I hope to give you good ideas, creative outlets, and inspiration to be a super fun and cool momma (like we know you already are, Pinterest just helps us be even cooler, I think!). I'm still adding to the site, so keep coming back to find new things on there.

HAVE FUN! 
Be creative. 
Get organized. 
Be a super momma. 
ENJOY PINNING! 




Friday, October 5, 2012

Baby-led Weaning book

Baby-led Weaning - Helping your baby to love good food by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett

I had never heard of Baby-led Weaning (BLW) until about two months ago when somebody in the Mommy Stories Facebook group posted about it. It's apparently been out there for a while (this book was written in 2008). The authors are from England, so it's written in an English tone and with spellings particular to there. But the info is universal it seems.

I wanted to read the book because my initial understanding of BLW was very vague. I could not comprehend it or why people would choose to go this route after a zillion years of babies being fed rice cereal as a first food. So, I wanted to gather more information before making up my mind about this BLW thing.


Here is what I learned:

On page 12, the authors wrote, "... there's nothing revolutionary about giving babies finger foods from six months. What's different about BLW is that the baby has only finger foods, making purees and spoon-feeding a thing of the past."

On page 18, the authors refer to BLW as a child learning to walk starting by crawling. They refer often in this book about babies being developmentally ready for things and that it's important for parents to allow babies to do their thing, learn as they go, and do it in their own phase, give the baby the control from the start. I liked this quote because it made sense to me, "When you put your newborn baby on the floor to have a kick you are giving her the opportunity to roll over. When she can, she will. You're also providing her with the opportunity to get up and walk. That may take a bit longer. But keep on providing the opportunity and she will do it eventually. Why should feeding be any different?"


The basics:
*Babies start eating solids - real solids, not rice cereal - at age 6 months. Not sooner, they can't digest it well before this point.
*Baby is in control of how much, what and when she eats. Parents do not spoon-feed baby.
*What parents eat, baby can eat.
*Baby is ready for solids when she "can sit up with little or no support, reach out to grab things and take them to her mouth quickly and accurately, and if she is gnawing on her toys and making chewing movements." (page 22)
*Babies learn to cope with lumps in food quicker with BLW.
*Babies start in life by being in control of eating with breastfeeding, so why step in and stop that process by spoon-feeding? Just let baby do it herself.
*Babies are naturally curious and hungry. Letting them copy parents and discover food themselves is best.
*Babies can eat more than once a day right from the start with BLW. Basically whenever parent is eating, baby can eat, too. The more opportunities to explore with food, the better baby will become at eating on her own.
*Solids are extras with BLW, just like with spoon-feeding purees. Milk feedings should come first.
*Many BLW parents do not put food on a plate or bowl, as the plate may be distracting to a baby. Just put in on the tray.
*Putting more than one type of food on the tray at a time is encouraged.
*It's very messy.
*Avoid salt and sugar in the meals. Use fresh ingredients.
*Leave some skin on fruits and vegetables at first to make it easier for baby to hold while eating.
*Much of what baby is getting in the beginning is just little bits of the food by sucking on it. The real eating does not come until even months later.


The authors do not entirely criticize the typical spoon-feeding cereal method of feeding babies their first solids, they just say it's not necessary to do it that way. It's more natural to let babies eat the regular food themselves and be in control of the process.

On page 86 the authors wrote, "We often talk about 'giving' babies food, but all you're really doin gwith BLW is offering - by placing suitable pieces within your baby's reach - either on your plate, or on the table-top or highchair tray - then letting her decide what to do with it." 

On page 110, the authors suggested it's never too late to START baby-led weaning. I was surprised to see this, as a Web site I'd read a few weeks ago said the opposite, that people should start early and continue. It's good to see that people can move toward BLW as they want to, even after a few months of purees and cereals. As I read and was thinking back on feeding my first child a few years ago, I realized that EVERYONE does baby-led weaning with solids as the baby is 8-12 months old. Not many are still doing purees at that point, at least not entirely. BLW is just doing that process much sooner and to start with, avoiding all the pureeing. That made sense to me.

What to think?!
So now that I've read the book here's what I think: COOL and HMMM.

I think it really is AWESOME. I looove all the talk about baby being in control. It's made me think for sure, about seeing how I can incorporate letting my daughter show us what she wants. In fact, recently I've been waiting for her to show me she wanted solids. The day after she literally shoved her hand into my plate and tried eating my corn salad at a party, I fed her!

I totally think it's great and respect those who choose this BLW path. It's just not for me. My husband looked through the pictures in the book with me and we both were nervous seeing the babies eat large pieces of food. Now this is just my opinion about 6 months old babies. Older than that I think they are starting to eat more solid finger foods anyway so it's more comfortable to see them trying it out. We're also old fashioned and think if something wasn't broken for a thousand years, why fix it? So when we recently fed our daughter for the first time it was good old rice cereal from a spoon that we held (though she did grab at it a hundred times and we let her take control at that point!). I would be worried about choking with BLW (despite that many say it's fine and not a huge thing). I also REALLY love making homemade baby food purees. I think making the purees exposes my baby to a greater variety than I'd typically have in the house for the rest of us, too. Just a different thing for us I guess.

All in all, this was an excellent resource for anyone who is interested in BLW.
It gives many how-tos and specifics (like if baby starts crying when gnawing on something it could be because she bit her fingers by accident because at first with BLW the fingers are always in the way! Good to know I'd think!). A VERY interesting process, that's for sure. I learned a lot. So glad I looked into this. Very cool to keep up with all the great things people are offering babies nowadays!

No-Cry Picky Eater book

I've reviewed several of these awesome No-Cry books by author Elizabeth Pantley, I just had to review this one about eating! Love eating myself, so of course it's fitting. The author herself sent me this copy of the book, so I'm psyched to review it here!


The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution - Gentle Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat - and Eat Healthy by Elizabeth Pantley

As I have found with all of her No-Cry books, this was a very easy to read and helpful resource. It's short, easy to understand and follow. Great information! The author interviewed and found info from many real families with real kids across the globe. Almost 200 people, almost 300 kids were talked to or found information from for the info in this book. It's tested on REAL people, which makes it a really helpful resource.

The first page is my favorite thing in the book, from the introduction: "189,800. That's the number of meals and snacks today's children can expect to eat in their lifetime.* According to resarchers half of all children born after 2007 in industrialized nations can expect to live to age 104 or older. Thus, 3 meals plus 2 snacks per day, 365 days per year for 104 years equals 189,800." CRA-AZY. This put it all in perspective for me: that teaching my children to eat healthy and get along with food on the table is a big deal and something that's important for me to focus on. However, on the other hand, if some of those almost 200,000 meals or snacks are not-so-healthy or packed full of veggies every single time, it's OK!!! Child will survive. Parent will be sane. It'll be OK!

Also from the introduction, Pantley wrote, "There will never be another time when you hold so much power to affect your child's future than right now. What this means is that his picky eating actions are only a symptom of childhood, and your response to these actions can become pivotal to his future." 

I think all kids can be picky eaters at certain points. My child ate everything under the sun - weird concoctions I made from homemade baby food - zucchini with plums and hummus for instance. Then he turned a year old and it all went downhill after that. He learned he had choices, freedom, and the ability to screech so loud and throw spoons and food across the room. He learned to prefer peanut butter sandwiches to almost anything I ever put on his plate. And thus a picky eating phase occurred for a short time. I listened to the books though and just kept offering green beans and "trees" (broccoli) until he tasted them and liked them. But alas, every child may have a picky eating phase. It's all normal.

I like what Pantley wrote though about picky eaters in the introduction, "If your child is a picky eater, keep the correct goal in mind. The objective is not to make your child eat more food but to be sure that food choices are healthy ones." Such an important distinction I think.


She explained her No-Cry philosophy as this, "This book, like all my No-Cry Solution books, is about finding respectful, effective solutions to your family's problems. It's about avoiding tears, stress, and anger, and making positive changes in the most productive ways. The No-Cry philosophy is about viewing probles in the context of the complete child and the entire family. It's about solving only those issues that you feel are problems." This is what I love about this author - she's a REAL mom. She gets it.

On page 18, the author stated that researchers have found that the food kids eat at age 2 and 3 are typically the same foods they eat at age 10. "It speaks loudly to the fact that we should use great care in choosing the types of foods we feed our children from a young age." 


Some basic eating tips with children (from the author Pantley in this new book):
-Don't use food as a reward or punishment.
-Discuss why she can't have a cookie for lunch.
-Avoid having battles over food.
-Make mealtime a family fun time.
-Stock the fridge full of healthy items.
-Eat what you serve to your kids - make a good example to them by eating the same healthy foods.
-Don't lecture, talk instead.
-Don't set a child's meal time by the clock or same time every day - sometimes kids want lunch at 10 a.m., it's OK!
-Serve veggies in interesting containers or call them things like "trees" to make them more fun.
-Give kids choices (do you want the green or yellow peppers? do you want to dip your apple in some peanut butter or no dip?)

Pantley goes into the "fundamental four" of ideas she has about making a healthy eater - attitude, enviroment, amounts and rules. She suggests a parent's job is not to make a child eat food, but to present the right foods and guide the child to eating on her own. Our parental attitude toward meal time is important.

On page 49 begin some great charts about how many calories and servings each age group of children should be eating. Very helpful and easy to follow. She offers great recipes on the back also of foods your kids will love.

Overall, a great resource. It makes teaching kids to eat right much less scary than it may seem.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

make it simple, mama!

We are such busy mommas. 
Going here, doing that, driving there, packing lunches, changing diapers, wrapping presents, remembering when to feed and bathe and take to play dates. It's a big job that we do. There is no spare time, I get it. We barely can shower in a day, if we're lucky, right? I definitely understand.


However, I'm a strong believer in the idea that if we put in a little time every now and then to organize our lives, houses, cars, work, etc. then we can end up saving time later and simplifying our life in a way that de-stresses us and makes life a whole lot less overwhelming.

So bear with me. I'm not saying these things could be done overnight or even in a weekend or month's full of weekends. I know life still goes on, despite your wishes and attempts at cleaning up around the place. BUT if you keep this list handy and try to go to it as often as possible (whatever that looks like for you is fine! Just keep doing it!) then I swear your life will get easier, you will be happier and feel more in control of this chaotic mommyhood.

Tips for Simplifying Your Life by Organizing Your World

BIRTHDAYS
1.Save gift bags and tissue paper from your own family parties. This way you always have pretty things at home to put gifts in, save money and don't need to rush around finding something at a store.

2. Save birthday cards. My son got a zillion second birthday cards last year. Really cute ones from his friends. But we didn't need to save them all, so I cut off the covers (which have the other side blank) and used those as birthday cards for some of his friends in the next year who were turning 2 also. Very easy, cheap and a nice recycling idea. Saved a ton of time instead of having to find more cards. For the adults in your life, make sure you have some blank cards on hand for all occasions really (showers coming up? graduation? thank you notes needed? sympathy? blank cards work wonders.)

3. Plan ahead. If you have a theme in mind for your child's party (not that you need one, but some people like them), then keep that in mind early so you can be looking at stores for supplies without even really looking. If you have ideas in mind then you will end up stumbling upon cute things like paper plates the exact color you wanted or things on sale. Also with planning ahead, make a list of the kids' parties you think your child will be invited to this year (family at least) and when Target has its huge toy sale (July and January every year) stock up on what you need (a friend does this and saves big!). This will save you time and money.

4. Send E-vite invitations. EASY. FREE. Sooo easy. End of story.

YUMMY
1. Make meals ahead of time. Take a few hours on a weekend (nap time? after kids are asleep for the night - whatever works), and make several meals you can freeze for later. Take these out when you are flying solo for the dinner routine with the kids or during busy weeks or when you're sick and not feeling like cooking. Also, getting a crockpot is a good idea to plan ahead and let it sit.

2. Grocery shop without the kids. Seriously, do I need to explain this one? You forget everything because you're too busy trying to get the toddler to stop throwing things out of the cart so you end up having to go back anyway. Leave 'em home with Dad.

3. Keep a list on your fridge. With Mom Brain happening who the heck can remember if you ran out of butter or oatmeal or dish soap? Write it down as soon as you run out of it and keep the running list on the fridge. 

4. Make homemade baby food. Yes, sounds like tons of work at first, but I swear it isn't, and it SAVES tons of money in the long run, which could be better spent on having fun with you fam!


CAR
1. Keep a spare diaper bag in the car.  This is a must! Keep it stocked with up-to-current-size clothing for the kids, diapers, wipes, etc.This is the one that remains in the car, doesn't go to and from the house.

2. Sun hats. My son loves the playground, so oftentimes if it's nice out we'll stop there after I pick him up at school after I get out of work. He has fair skin so needs to wear hats often, so I keep a couple in the car always.

3. Clean it out once in a while! I recently cleaned my car and took out an entire bag of my kids' toys and books, as well as about 10 pieces of crackers and granola bar pieces (hey, we lived in the car this summer going to and from playgrounds!). Just clean it out every now and then to make sure you have room to sit in there.

4. Wipes. We keep a big box in the car because if we're gone for an entire day or a long period of time those smaller cases that we usually have in the diaper bag are not enough. This is also nice for after playing outside when my son gets messy it's easy to clean him up before he gets in the car.

5. First aid kit - You are on the go, you need band-aids around!

6. Stroller - Leave it in the trunk at all times. You never know when you'll need it.


DAYCARE
1. Leave the diaper bag there on Monday, pick it back up Friday to re-stock over the weekend. Don't take it back and forth daily. Leave it fully stocked on Monday and just take it home on the weekend to update anything missing.

2. Pack lunches/bottles/breakfast, etc. on Sunday evening. Get these all set for the week, drop at daycare Monday morning, and then start over the following week. MUCH easier than packing daily.

3. Pack each night instead of each morning. Set out clothes for the kids the night before. Get shoes and coat ready in the spot that you intend to dress your child before heading out (it's just easier than chasing your toddler around the house to get ready). Put near the door whatever you need for work or daycare that day. Fill the sippy cup of milk the night before and have it ready in the fridge. Take out your cereal bowl if you need to. Do as much as possible the night before so you aren't rushing the morning of.


CLEAN IT UP, MAMA
1. Go through the medicine cabinet. Toss whatever is old. Add to the grocery list whatever you might need - band-aids, children's toothpaste, cough medicine because winter is coming, a thermometer that actually works, etc. Then update. You will be grateful you did this when somebody is sick at 2 a.m.!

2. Go through toys often. Get rid of whatever is not being used. Rotate toys so it seems like things are brand new. Donate!

3. Keep addresses up-to-date and in one place. Address books are helpful for when you need them!

4. Go through the fridge often and clean it out. Putting things in the right place = spending less money on groceries.

5. Keep a basket of things at the bottom of the stairs to take things up later. Anything that doesn't belong in a room, toss in the basket, deal with later when you go up.

6. Get address labels. Saves time putting on a sticker versus addressing envelopes.

7. Keep photos organized. Make photo books as you go instead of every few years when things are overwhelming, busy and too crazy. Just try to update once a month.Same with baby books - do it once a month, every week write down things on post-its at least that you can transfer later.


JUST TRY IT.
Do even one of these things and I swear your life will become easier in the long run. Yes, it takes a little effort at first, but it's worth it if it makes things easier down the road.